Jan 262015



1. Simply snap off a firm but flexible Y-shaped twig from a nearby hazel or willow.
2. Select a park, a wood, a copse, a forest, a mountain: Clissold Park, Highgate, that secret place from childhood, the Bois de Boulogne, Black Mountain.
3. Go there.
4. With your twig.
5. Hold the twig as if it were the handles of a lawnmower or a Harley.
6. Except with your hands sort of turned inside out and upside down.
7. I don’t know why.
8. Wait for the ideomotor effect to make the twig quiver with a slightly disappointing mild excitement.
9. Quiver with a slightly disappointing mild excitement.
10. Tell your companion there’s definitely water/gold/oil/a rare Clash bootleg under your feet.
11. Realise you’ve forgotten your shovel.
12. Realise you’ve forgotten to bring a companion.
13. Go home and construct your own metaphor.


 Posted by at 9:46 pm
Jan 182015


Imagine a hay wagon. Imagine Hardy or Constable. Suffolk. Dorset. Imagine the gentle rocking shuffle of a summer’s day. Straw-in-mouth vacuity. Cider-born sloth.


Imagine a stallion. Imagine a sleek sheen and a surge that unnerves in its sex and its charge. Imagine wind-in-hair joy and the petit mort of clinging to its back.


Imagine a man now – stooped, cane-carrying, tight. Imagine he was instructed by his own father always to come third in his class, to never – ever! – draw attention to his intelligence. Imagine his heart.


Imagine that man approaching you wherever you are right now. Imagine his eyes – night-black, fierce. Now imagine that voice you’ll never forget, the voice of the one that got away. You know the one.


Imagine the man talks to you in that voice. Imagine he asks you two things. Imagine he asks you first if you’ve ever found a truth for which you can live and die. A reason. Imagine your answer.


Imagine he asks you now if your existence is riding the stallion or snoozing in the hay cart. Imagine your answer. But imagine that answer spoken to him by the voice of your father.


Imagine saying goodbye to the man. Imagine watching him move away from you, disappearing finally. Carry on whatever you were doing. Don’t ever think about any of this again.


 Posted by at 9:49 pm
Jan 122015



A couple of years ago, Kingston University bought hundreds of Iris Murdoch’s letters. When I heard about this, I emailed The Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies (!), arranged a time to go down there, underwent rigorous interrogation (including waterboarding and being forced to listen to Level 42) about my motives, put on special Kev-proof gloves, swore I’d be really, really, really careful and sat there for a few hours inside Iris’ thoughts and hopes and anxieties, all the time being glared at by the scarily-bespectacled Keeper Of The Letters.

All the letters were from Iris – she apparently destroyed every single one she ever received. And, while The Guardian had been full of the ‘sensational’ discovery of her long-term gay relationship with Philippa Foot, the fascination for me lay in those to Raymond Queneau, the French writer who wrote one of my favourite books, ‘Exercises in Style’. I sat there trying to piece together what he must have said to her: her responses were loving, tantalising, beautiful and sad. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:35 pm
Jan 082015

So I try to work out what I think and I try to work out what I feel and I realise I think nothing and feel nothing I could possibly be proud of next year. Or even tomorrow.

And this is what they want.

And I don’t want to do what they want. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:39 pm

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